Learning Tips, Miscellaneous, Resources



Hi guys! I realised that I was due in for my monthly update on this blog, so here I am 😀 Thankfully, it’s my 1 week mid-semester break at the moment so I have a minute to bash out this post.

My 9-week Italian course finished recently. We had a little class party with lots of food and we did a fun speaking activity to cap things off – we were split into groups and we had to invent our own pub, before introducing it to the rest of the class in Italian. Somebody brought wine and needless to say, I have never cried so hard with laughter in class before – I have subsequently learned that alcohol and language learning mixes molto bene! My voucher actually covers two terms so I think I will enrol for the next 9-week session. In the meantime, the teacher has given us some ‘holiday homework’ to do so I am hoping to tackle that before lessons kick off again in mid-October.

did end up signing up for JLPT N2…but to be honest, I really wasn’t sure about it. But then Dad was just like, “yolo, it can’t hurt” so here I am, $90 poorer (after paying that damn registration fee). I haven’t started studying for it though. This is terrible! I have listening materials and kanji and vocabulary flashcards lined up…but does anybody know if there are any free reading practice materials for N2 floating around on the Net? If you do, please leave a comment and I will give you a beautiful ramen photo in my next post 😛

But in more proactive language learning land, I have recently signed up to Conversation Exchange! I decided that it was finally time to grab the bull by the horns and just open my mouth lol. I have had a Skype session with a French guy living in Paris. I am using Wechat to talk to and send Mandarin messages to somebody living in Tianjin, China. And I met up with a Japanese girl here in Sydney to have a chat in person! She likes ramen too!!1! We have started a two-person ramen club (pls join guys!). I was really hesitant about getting that first message and having these first meetings but the site is really busy (I get several messages everyday) and although you will get some weird messages, you aren’t obliged to respond to them and it’s all very safe and positive – because nearly everybody else just wants a language exchange partner too! I’d recommend the site ^^ If you’re on the site as well, just leave me a comment and I’ll happily link you my profile details 🙂

Conversation Exchange

So that’s about it from me. Just super burned out from university and super hyped up from language exchange. What a wonderful state of mind to be in. But I hope that you guys are well at least – let me know what you’ve been up to do, and happy language learning ^^

Food, Miscellaneous



I actually have nothing to blog about in particular so I’m just going to leave this food porn here hohoho >:D It’s the special rice from Gumshara here in Sydney’s Chinatown. They make fantastic ramen (which I have previously mentioned) but if you don’t feel like being weighed down by a bowl of noodles, I highly recommend that you allow yourself to be weighed down by this bowl of rice instead! It comes with all your typical ramen toppings + spicy pickled mustard greens on rice. The rice also has yummy things like more egg and cha shu chopped through it. They give you a small bowl of their extra-thick tonkotsu broth too (you can just make it out in the background), so what I like to do is wet the rice with the broth and eat it in large, ungraceful, foodgasmic mouthfuls. Did I also mention that all of this heart-stopping glory can be yours for $9? You’re welcome.

I suppose I should probably mention some form of language learning here though right? Well, I’m going to start Chapter 5 of Tobira today (IT’S ON JAPANESE FOOD WOOP) and I am on track to finish it before uni starts again. I also used my Japanese to communicate with fans on Twitter who are organising food support for my k-idol’s activities in Japan, and it appears that they understood me so I am proud 😀 I am also more than halfway through La Vérité sur l’affaire Harry Quebert, which I posted about about two weeks ago I think, so my French cognitive muscles aren’t totally going to waste (unlike my Italian ones woops). Turns out it’s actually 800 pages, not 600 O.O I’m really enjoying it so far!

So that’s all I can report for this week! I hope you are all well, and that your language learning is going well. You must tell me what you’ve been up to ^^




A wonderful combined birthday / Christmas present (they’re only one week apart) that came from my French host family yesterday! I did my homestay with them back in 2011 when I was 16 (how time flies!!) but we are still good friends ^_^

The book doesn’t seem to have a blurb but the front cover tells me it has won literary prizes, so I’m looking forward to tackling it once I finish Musso’s Parce que je t’aime. It’s 600 pages too! I am gradually transitioning out of reading young adult fiction in French to regular adult novels, but reading YA is usually more fun because it just deals with more imaginative fun stuff 😀 This will be a good challenge for me.


Learning Log: 30/6 – 6/7


Because I’m not inspired to write about anything particular at the moment, but I don’t want to neglect the blog :/ Such is the way of laziness…In any case, I’ve just finished my first week of holidays, and I think I’ve been able to use the time quite productively (language learning wise) so far.


-watched France 2 news x 4

-1 session of grammar revision

-one DELF B1 writing exercise – L’education: doit-elle être obligatoire?


-Duolingo: strengthened 3 lessons, 2 lessons in Adjectives 1

-1 session grammar revision

-1.5 units of Pronti Via 3 textbook (we used this during the HSC, but never finished, so I thought I should instead ^^)

SPANISH <– (new language)

-Duolingo: strengthened 5 lessons, 2 lessons in Future Tense Verb Phrases


-finished Units 4 and 5 of Integrated Chinese Level 1

-finished Units 9 and 10 of Chinese Made Easy 1

-daily character writing practice


-15 JLPT N2 grammar points

-1 hour reading immersion

-finished Unit 9 of Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese, halfway through Unit 10

-read through Unit 1 of Tobira

KOREAN <– (new language)

-learnt Hangul

-TTMIK Level 1, Lessons 1-9

…and yeah, I think that’s it so far.  I’ll be going out more often this week, so I probably won’t be able to get as much done.  But I’m proud of the work I’ve been doing, and I’ve been enjoying myself immensely, especially with Korean.  It’s been a while since I’ve been at a complete beginner stage of a language, so it’s exciting learning bits and pieces and seeing how they’ll all gradually fit into the bigger puzzle ^_^

I hope all your language learning is going well too – please update me on what you’ve been learning too!

안녕히 계세요!

French, French Resources, Miscellaneous, Resources

Snippets + French News Resources

My laptop still isn’t quite working so I am unable to do photo posts, but fear not (!) I promise that I have some recipes and France photos still to come ^^

I’ve been at university for 2 weeks now. I’m studying Law / Arts (Media & Communications), so aside from my core Law and Media subjects, I managed to squeeze in French and Japanese for the Arts component of my degree, and I’m really enjoying it! The language part that is, the rest sucks.

Some bits and pieces from the language learning front:


  • I was allowed to skip straight to Senior French 9 (out of 10 levels!! eek…).  The level is okay but I’m beginning to realise that my grammar is not up to scratch though…must add grammar study to the never-ending list of to dos =_=
  • We are studying the work of contemporary French philosopher Michel Serres – do any of you guys know him? He’s eloquent but a bit of an old windbag
  • We are practicing writing compte rendus (written summaries of audio / audiovisual texts in one’s own words). The teacher asked me to read one of mine in front the class and she said it was good!!
  • We will be studying Amélie Nothomb’s novel Les Catilinaires and writing an essay on it (oh dear…)


  • I’m in Senior Japanese 5 – smack bang in the middle, but it’s intermediate level work and suits me well
  • We’re studying using An Integrated Approach to Intermediate Japanese – I really like the book, but if you’re not a student, the constant student-based content can be a bit >.< The pace of the class is good too, we do a chapter every week ^^
  • Our Japanese is broken up into 3 1 hour tutorials per week – Reading, Grammar & Speaking, which will hopefully force me to improve my non-existent Japanese speaking skills
  • N3 prep is chugging along…started amping up my listening practice, but the recordings are so fast…I’m in deep shit T.T

Uni Life

  • Joined the French & Japanese societies so I could go to their conversation groups but realized they clash with my timetable so I can’t even go this semester T.T
  • The joy of packed lunch! Occasional late starts mean that I get the time to pick out a new recipe and cook it for my lunch ^^ I’ve tried out Okinawan taco rice (comfort food heaven) and will be cooking something Thai-inspired this week – stayed tune for a recipe (hopefully!)
  • Some reading for any bento / packed lunch fans (who else can’t afford to buy food), a Tofugu interview with a bento artist.

Useful French listening links:

am a Media student, but I must say that I’m a huge fan of current affairs/news! Our first French assessment is a listening test (where we then write a compte rendu summary afterwards) so I’ve found myself doing a lot of listening on the French front. Some useful links if any of you want to practice your French with French current affairs:

  • SBS French: you can listen to podcasts of SBS French radio, foreign films or catch up on the French news (le JT/ le journal télévisé). Otherwise, you can catch it on SBS1 every morning at 8:40am.
  • Replays: another site where you can replay the TV news
  • For those short on time: France Info offers “France Info en 3 minutes” – an audio clip compression of the day’s news in just 3 minutes! It’s absolute gold ^^ It also provides links to more detailed (yet still succint!) written articles featured.
  • For multitaskers: I’m forced to spend a lot of time everyday commuting to uni so I make the most of my train trips (if I’m not sleeping…). Download a wide variety of short podcasts (topics include travel, world news, arts etc) on the Radio France Podcast app and listen to them later.

I hope that these links are useful to any French learners out there ^^

Bonne écoute et à la prochaine fois! (happy listening and until next time!)


Europe, French, Miscellaneous, Travel

Being the Translator

My laptop has literally committed suicide on me, so I am currently unable to upload any posts with photos (hence the lack of posts + I was on a roadtrip with friends).  Therefore, I thought I’d do a little musing about the trip I made to France in January from a language learning point of view.

I am the only person in my family who speaks French.  We decided to explore without joining a tour or hiring a guide, so that we could enjoy the sights at our own pace.  We agreed to take this approach because my family trusted me enough to rely on me to get around / order food / sort out any problems etc should we encounter non-English speaking people.  This meant that everybody felt pretty at ease, and we were less likely to get scammed 😀

“Being the translator” is definitely great practice.  It’s also useful and fun, as people warm up to you because they can now feel more comfortable being able to speak in their first language with you and share jokes while your companions look on blankly.  It’s also interesting to note the surprise on people’s faces (I’m assuming the number of Asian tourists in France who speak French isn’t too high…).

However, “being the translator” can also be stressful and annoying.  When you travel, you are inevitably tired.  This means that you can become extremely irritable when your brother orders: “Get me a hotdog”.


I’m not going to write about important travel phrases when travelling (to a place where you don’t speak the language), because there is invariably an abundance of similar articles with lots of helpful suggestions if you Google hard enough, but I just wanted to write about some things to consider if you are going to be the one that your travel companions will be “relying on”:

remind your companions that there will still be some people who speak English (especially in touristy places): speaking on everybody’s behalf gets tiring, and they can still equally make connections with locals!!

remind your companions that you don’t know everything

remind your companions that they should still treat you as a family member / friend: not a paid translator / personal assistant


Here are also some things that I have found could be useful to consider revising if you will be translating for your group:

formal / informal speech

-question speech patterns

-asking for directions

-transport related vocabulary: such as “line”, “stop”, “taxi rank” etc.

-asking for the bill

-how to order

-how to make bookings

menu related items: this is actually such a big one!  Even if you already know your fruits and veggies, you should also revise / learn:

  • seafood (I don’t like seafood, but my family does, so I really had to learn as I went T.T)
  • meat
  • cuts of meat (e.g. flank steak, ribs etc.)
  • cooking methods (e.g. steamed, fried etc.)
  • rareness of meat (e.g. well done, medium rare etc.)
  • you might consider asking your travel companions what sort of food they like, so you can ask around if necessary and/or be prepared

clothing & shoes / skincare / cosmetics: especially if you like to shop! ^^

anti theft / scamming vocab: like “stop!”, “thief!”, “we’re not interested!” or “leave me alone!” (I’m serious! We nearly got pickpocketed >.<)

I can’t think of anything else from the top of my head, but I will surely add to this list if anything else pops up.  If you have any suggestions, please tell me! ^^

Have any of you had to “be the translator” while on holiday?  And how did you find the experience?

French, Miscellaneous

Pour fêter / aka the best part of any celebration…

…is obviously the food.  I’ll be writing in French today, about my birthday/end of exam celebration dinner ^^

Vendredi dernier, j’ai eu la chance d’aller au restaurant “Guillaume at Bennelong” avec ma famille pour fêter mon 18ème anniversaire et mes bons resultats du bac. 

“Guillaume at Bennelong” est le restaurant du chef français Guillaume Brahimi (donc la raison pourquoi j’écris en français aujourd’hui!) et c’est un des établissements culinaires le plus connu et iconiqe ici à Sydney.  Un restaurant de “trois toques” (on n’a pas d’étoiles au Michelin en Australie, pourtant je ne sais pas pourquoi…), il est situé dans une des “voiles” de l’Opéra de Sydney.  On a dû réserver presque un mois en avance!  J’avais tellement hâte tout le mois d’y aller, et enfin, vendredi dernier ça y est!   

Je vais parler de la nourriture en anglais – je crois que j’aurais du mal à expliquer cette expérience en français…

Last Friday, I was lucky enough to go the restaurant “Guillaume at Bennelong” with my family to celebrate my 18th birthday as well as my good exam marks.

“Guillaume at Bennelong” is the restaurant of French chef Guillaume Brahimi (and thus the reason why I’m writing in French today!) and it is one of the most well-known and iconic culinary establishments in Sydney.  A “3-hat” restaurant (we don’t have Michelin stars in Australia, I don’t know why that is…), it is situated in one of the “sails” of the Sydney Opera House.  We had to book almost a month in advance! I was looking forward to going the entire month, and finally, last Friday, I got to go!

I’m going to talk about the food in English – I think it’d be difficult to explain this experience in French… >.<

I ordered really unphotogenic food, so I’ve borrowed the more appetizing dishes of my family members – hope you don’t mind!


Entree: Spanner Crab with avocado, cucumber, coriander and capsicum coulis.  I ordered steak tartare (which was delicious!) but I soon found out that editing doesn’t really improve the appearance of raw meat so…


 Main: Angus beef tenderloin with watercress, salsa verde and veal jus, with a side of Bennelong’s famous Paris mash (it was so smooth and buttery I can’t even T_T)


Dessert: Gateau opera with chocolate brandy snap and coffee ice cream

Of course we didn’t bring my birthday cake (from previous post) to the restaurant (it’s just that sort of place you know, you just can’t >.<), so we ate that at home ^_^

And now a little bit from the language learning front:

-have been watching the French news every morning (except when I have work) and I can understand everything!  I’ve noticed that French news likes to have lots of little “enquêtes” (I guess this translates to investigations?) into varied topics (today was on the diamond industry :O) so I feel like I’m learning new stuff too which is good right 😀

Je crois que c’est tout pour aujourd’hui – à bientôt!

I think that’s all for today – see you soon!